October 17 marks the 34th observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. First observed in 1987, the United Nations General Assembly officially declared October 17 as the official date of observance in 1992. By acknowledging the observance of international days we are provided the time to educate others and ourselves on global issues of both achievement and concern as well as the opportunity to discuss the organization of political will and resources to address these issues.

The theme this year, ‘Building Forward Together: Ending Persistent Poverty, Respecting all People and our Planet’, addresses the significant impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had around the globe and the need to build forward and not merely building back to the level of poverty that existed prior to the pandemic. Having been on a downward trajectory of the percentage of the world’s population living in extreme poverty (living on less than $1.90 per day) since 1990, 2020 data shows the first increase in the extreme poverty rate since 1998, 9.5% compared to 8.4% respectively. According to the United Nations Statistics Division, estimates suggest an increase of between 119 and 124 million global poor in 2020 with 60% of that increase in Southern Asia.

There are many contributing factors, not all of which are economic issues, that persons living in poverty may experience that perpetuate their poverty and make it increasingly more difficult to make changes including unsafe housing, dangerous work conditions, lack of nutritious food, unequal access to justice, lack of political power, and limited access to health care. These factors and more are continually part the United Nations Division of Sustainable Development Goals’ priority actions, which include the following:

  • Improving access to sustainable livelihoods, entrepreneurial opportunities and productive resources;
  • Providing universal access to basic social services;
  • Progressively developing social protection systems to support those who cannot support themselves;
  • Empowering people living in poverty and their organizations;
  • Addressing the disproportionate impact of poverty on women;
  • Working with interested donors and recipients to allocate increased shares of official development assistance (ODA) to poverty eradication; and
  • Intensifying international cooperation for poverty eradication.

Take Action:

For additional education and personal development related to diversity, equity and inclusion, the following resources are available: DDEI Education and ResourcesDEI & Antiracism Resources from the UNC Libraries, the Education Equity Toolkit from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and the UNITE workshops for faculty, staff, and students.